Special Feature: Author Inteview with
Welcome Kenny Soward, author of ROUGH MAGIC, Book 1 of the GnomeSaga, bourbon aficionado, and drummer extraordinaire.
Tell us a little about yourself. What other things have you written? Got a day job?
Hi there! Thanks for having me. While I'm new to self-publishing, I've been writing off and on for around 30 years. I reached a peak back in the mid 90's writing goth horror for magazines like Carpe Noctem, Storm Constantine's Visionary Tongue, and Gothic.Net. I spent the next ten years writing simply for pleasure, finishing three novels and numerous short stories.
Yes, I do have a day job. I do global Unix support for a major IT company. Basically, a computer geek.
Your Amazon bio mentions cats?
I'm a dog person too! We just don't have a fence up yet, and I'd like to let my dogs run around the yard. Then I'd like to join them running around the yard. Hell, I'll even fetch if someone will throw. But yes, we love our cats. Two farm cats and a formerly homeless Persian who's so damn old and cute it's enough to drive you crazy. He sits by my side on his perch while I write.
You self-published ROUGH MAGIC. Can you tell us a little about why you chose that route and how the process treated you?
I chose self-publishing primarily because I'm forty-two years old, and I don't want to waste another minute hoping and praying some publisher will give me the time of day, then wait a year for the first book in my series to hit the shelves, and then make relatively little money for my efforts. Not to mention the recent nightmare stories coming out about certain publishing houses screwing the pooch.
One company (my day job) already owns me, so why would I want two companies owning me?
Traditional publishing works very well for many authors, but for ROUGH MAGIC, I thought it best to go it alone. There may come a day where I sell off a series or sign a publishing deal. Who knows?
So far, the self-publishing process has been great. I took my time, got some great editing and advice, and created (I think) a quality product with ROUGH MAGIC. I like hiring creative freelancers and working on the things I think a reader will appreciate. Honestly, it's been a friggin' blast.
Your story seems to do the things a lot of readers want out of fantasy these days, particularly female characters with agency and non-European descent characters. Was this a conscious choice on your part or was it just where your imagination took you? And why gnomes?
I love writing female characters. It took me awhile to puzzle out why, but I believe it is because I'm not a female and so females intrigue me. They are majestic and mysterious beings, and I've always felt there was an emotional depth in them I could never get out of my male characters. Also, my girlfriend says I'm a lesbian trapped in a hillbilly's body, so maybe that has something to do with it. That being said, I get great pleasure out of writing certain male characters too, such as Nikselpik and Dale Dillwind (both in ROUGH MAGIC).
Was it a conscious choice? Possibly, although I seem to remember writing what I thought was "cool," and that just happened to include what I hoped was some good diversity. I know from my experience as a musician, it's never fun when you have just guys in your audience. It's a much better party when everyone is invited.
Why gnomes? Good question. After I'd finished my first draft of ROUGH MAGIC, my editor Joe Martin and I were sitting in Joseph Beth's discussing things, and I had a panic attack. I blurted out, "Joe, does anyone give a fuck about gnomes?" Joe assured me that they did and that I'd "humanized" my characters enough so readers could relate. Deep down, I think I wrote about gnomes because it seemed like a fun thing to do, a romp on the playground without pressure from a publisher to fit into some sort of pre-defined mold. Given the success of the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings, I'm surprised no one else beat me to it, and I'm happy to be the first.
Okay, I gotta ask: Do you have a collection of gnome statues in your garden? (Please have a collection of gnome statues in your garden.)
We have a set of zombie gnomes on order :)
Your fantasy reads a little like steampunk at times, with all the cool gadgets and tinkering. How did you come up with the idea of tinkering? Is that a gnomish trope I haven't heard of or does it stem from a personal interest?
Tinkering gnomes are fairly common in MMORPGs. Everquest and World of Warcraft specifically. They have clockwork cities and cool gadgets. I discovered my two main characters (Nik and Nika) while playing Everquest, and I had so much fun I thought I'd write a book about them. Plus, I'm a mechanical guy. I've always loved fixing things, and even had a job repairing Minolta laser printers where I learned a lot about mechanics and how certain materials, just by their properties, make a big difference in the quality of the print. I'm sure that's a big reason Nika ended up a tinkerer.
Gnomes are funny. (Well, to me.) But this isn't exactly a "funny" story. There are real stakes, a cataclysmic enemy, and struggling warriors. What's the inspiration for your antagonist?
One of my antagonists is First Wizard Raulnock, who is both an instrument of sabotage and also growth in Niksabella's life. Through him, she learns how to fight for what she believes in. To me, Raulnock represents the abusiveness of government and how someone with a little power and influence can have immense negative effects on regular folks.
The other antagonist would be the amorph witch, an ultraworld creature who quickly becomes Nikselpik's arch enemy. While Raulnock represents a real-world problem, I wanted the witch to represent something bizarre, an alien presence so strange and horrible only a degenerate like Nikselpik would have the instincts to fight her. The inspiration for her came from a mix of horror movies: The Ring, Alien, and Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
When can we expect the next installment of your series and what else can we look forward to from you?
I just received the final cover layout for THE TINKERMAGE and it's all I can do to keep from posting it for folks to see. I'm so excited. You can expect the next book to be much bigger in scope. We'll see dwarves, humans, and swamp elves, as well as armies from the ultraworlds marching across the face of Sullenor, and even more challenges for our heroes. I'm basically cranking it up a notch. Currently, I'm about halfway finished with THE TINKERMAGE, but have no solid release date yet. Closest I can say is end of this summer, 2013.
I'd like to take this opportunity to announce a new series created by myself, Tim Marquitz, and Joe Martin entitled DEAD WEST. This will be a series of zombie westerns in the spirit of Deadwood and Walking Dead. Each book will be around 30,000 words of gore-spattering, gun toting, zombilicious delight. Right now, we have plans for releasing Book One: Those Poor, Poor Bastards, sometime in the next two or three months, with new installments quick to follow.
Join me on my official site: http://www.facebook.com/officialkennysoward.
Join the gnomish army (eMailing list): http://eepurl.com/x6Ief.